How Safe is a Salt Water Flush?

by Jori Geck October 03, 2020

A salt water flush is a detox strategy that is widely known from its part in the Master Cleanse detox and fasting program developed in 1941(2). This flush is used to cleanse your colon and help with different digestive issues. This flush has been used to prepare patients for a colonoscopy, which is an examination of the colon, and is now being used as a dieting and cleansing technique. As the salt water flush becomes more popular, questions arise in regards to its safety and how it works. Let's dive into how to do a salt water flush and its effectiveness. 

What are the Benefits of a Salt Water Flush?

As mentioned previously, doing a salt water flush offers various detoxing and cleansing benefits to our body.  Below are the main health benefits of the salt water flush (6):

  • Clears fluid retention 
  • Improves digestion 
  • Reduces inflammation in the body 
  • Colon cleansing 
  • Eases sore throats 
  • May remove toxins 
  • Facilitates metabolic processes 
  • Decreases bloating 

The salt water flush mixture works by causing the body to push waste and toxins through the digestive tract and excreting them (1). By this process, the colon is cleansed, digestion is improved, and excess bloating and constipation are alleviated with the laxative effect the mixture has.

How Do I Do a Salt Water Flush?

A salt water flush recipe includes dissolving two teaspoons of non-iodized salts, such as pink Himalayan salt or pure sea salt, into four cups of warm water. If you do not like the taste, you could add lemon juice to the mixture. You will want to drink this mixture first thing in the morning,on an empty stomach, for the best results. It should take 30 minutes to 1 hour to start feeling the laxative effect of this salty drink. It is said laying on your right side after drinking the mixture will improve the mobility of the mixture to the small intestine and complete a more thorough cleanse (3). You will want to ensure you are in a comfortable setting, as the first hour will be filled with many bathroom breaks. You will also want to make sure you don't schedule the salt water flush during a busy day because it will be interrupted. 

Will a Salt Water Flush Help Me Lose Weight?

Doing a salt water flush can help you lose weight; however, it is not permanent fat weight you are losing. When you drink the salty mixture, the excessive amount of salt in your body makes the body unable to absorb any water (5). Due to the fact we can't retain the water, our body excretes it through diarrhea. As we excrete more and more water, we start to lose water weight. Water makes up about 90% of our body weight, and you can lose up to 5 pounds of water weight during this flush. As this will not be permanent weight loss, it can prepare your body for further detoxification or diets you may be doing afterward which can result in fat loss. Any bloating will also be significantly reduced during the flush.

What are the Risks of a Salt Water Flush?

Just like most cleanses and flushes, there is always a concern for the risk and side effects that come along with it. Since the salt water cleanse flushes out the small intestine and cleanses the colon, there occasionally can be negative symptoms that occur. While the flush will detox and release fluid retention to improve digestion, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance can occur along with that. This flush can also interfere with the healthy bacteria in your gut, and deplete your body of nutrients due to the excess excretion of water and waste in our body. Some studies suggest taking probiotics several days after the salt water flush, making sure you are consuming enough dietary fiber to help balance your gut bacteria, and making sure you are consuming a healthy, nutrient-dense diet full of vitamins and minerals (1). Some uncomfortable symptoms as a result of the flush include (3):

  • Muscle spasms 
  • Weakness 
  • Twitching 
  • Confusion 
  • Headaches 
  • Fatigue 
  • Changes in blood pressure 
  • Numbness 
  • Nausea 

It is important to consult your doctor before doing a salt water flush to ensure it is safe, and discontinue if you are experiencing any of these symptoms. If you are doing the salt water flush for the first time, you may also experience vomiting and nausea when drinking the mixture, which is noted to be normal due to the taste. To avoid this, you can suck on ice cubes afterward, or wash the salty taste down with a little more water. 

Who Should Consider a Salt Water Flush?

Although there are no medical guidelines in regards to who should perform a salt water flush, if you are experiencing any of the health issues below, you may benefit from doing one:

  • Constipation 
  • Irregular bowel movements
  • Skin issues (acne, psoriasis)
  • Severe bloating 

If you find yourself in the any of the categories below, it is best to avoid a salt water flush as it could result in further concern and not be safe :

  • Pregnant 
  • Breastfeeding 
  • Have kidney disease 
  • Have heart problems 
  • Have high blood pressure 
  • Children 

How Often Should I Salt Water Flush?

In theory, you can do a salt water cleanse as often as needed to cleanse your digestive system. It is important to keep in mind the risks associated with it and pay attention if you are experiencing any negative systems. 


The salt water flush can provide various benefits like detoxification, improved digestive health, and assist with severe bloating. While performing this flush can provide positives to your health, it is important to know the side effects and risk factors to ensure it is done safely and correctly. This flush is not right for everyone, and you should consult your doctor before doing it to make sure it is right for you. 

References :

Jori Geck
Jori Geck

Jori Geck has a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Central Michigan University. Jori is a full-time Nutritionist at NuVision Health Center and has a desire to share her passion of healing the body with food, and improving overall health in natural, sustainable ways.

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